Whenpeople, especially the young men and women, enters a new environment,they find new ways of life that they have to cope-up with in order tobond with the society. One of the psychological mechanisms thatpeople utilizes under such circumstances is known as splitting. It isa way of seeking approval from the community. Sometimes it may bebased on fears that if one involves himself or herself in such apractice, he or she would be seen as one who is rebelling against theusual practices or anxiety from the society that forces them toaccept it as their new way of life. Dealing with such issues makesthe idea of sexuality more complicated because men and women areexpected to find ways of fitting into these environments rather thantry to express their views adequately. The definition of their livesbecomes intricate, and issues of sexuality become difficult tohandle. Another psychological mechanism is known as dissociation.Dissociation is described as the detachment from the surroundingenvironment and in worse cases the detachment from physical oremotional experiences. Although the separation begins a means ofself-defense, it may prolong resulting in the disengagement with theworld. It is a behavior that can even lead to the blacking out ofindividuals or be developing certain traits to enable them to cope upwith demands of every day`s life.
Thispaper focuses on dissociation and splitting a means of self-defensein response to the life challenges. Works of Lesle Bell, SusanFalundi, and Martha Stout have been used to provide evidence andexplanations for the various situations that threaten individualbeliefs and may sometimes result in fear and anxiety.
Belland Falundi: Splitting
Accordingto Leslie Bell, young women have natural instincts that give them theability to protect themselves. In the process, they apply apsychological defense described as splitting. Bell indicates that awoman splits her personality attributes into separate categories. Forinstance, women divide them into levels of promiscuity and sexualdesires. He notes that "multiple divisions that people invoke atdifferent times and various situations to manage anxiety and todefend against uncertainty” (Bell 28). At Citadel, the freshmen usesplitting as a way of managing stress from fellow seniors. Splittingcan, therefore, be understood as a psychological mechanism that oneuses as a means of seeking approval from society. In the NakedCitadel, the education system is made to teach cadets how to be aman. The male dominated environment forms an excellent environmentfor cadets. Susan Faludi describes her experience while investigatingthe behavior of people at Citadel, an environment where masculinityis practiced. One of the experiences was the reaction of men when sheinquired why women should not attend the college. Another experienceshe describes is the name given to the freshman cadets.
Thefreshman cadets are called knobs and were a practice that wasintended to create an identity that differentiates them from theirseniors. The freshman cadets use splitting as a means of protectingthemselves from their cadet seniors. For the cadets, humiliating anex-girlfriend is important in the college because it creates a betterstory. The cadets are likely to compete whose story is the best whenit comes to humiliating ex-girlfriends. For the cadets to getapproval in the college environment, they bond together not becausethey like it or want to but because one in college, it is theirresponsibility and everyone in college does it so one cannot beexceptional. For example, Faludi writes, “’when we are in theshowers, it’s very intimate,` as said by an upperclassman. ‘We’reone mass, naket together and it makes us closer……`" (Faludi102). The relationship helps in the approval of freshman into thecollege by their seniors. Splitting helps these learners to cope upwith their new environment and act in a manner, which everyone elsein the college understands. Through splitting, they pretend to besomeone they are not because citadel enforces it and it is related topower and masculinity.
Faludiand Stout: Dissociation
MarthaStout having spent 26 years at Harvard Medical School teachingpsychology and almost 30 years of clinical experience, she was wellaware of the difficulties encountered by people with psychologicaltrauma. She uses some case studies and imaginative scenarios thatindicate the ability of humans to dissociate from the reality withthe goal of self-defense during childhood stress which she explainsthat at times, it may develop into a way of life for some peopleresulting in emotional detachment or may lead to prolongeddisengagement from the surrounding. For Stout, dissociation resultsfrom traumatic experiences in the past, and it is the underlyingthoughts that largely affects the behavior and attitude of anindividual. She says that "sometimes dissociation can occur whenwe are only confused or frustrated or nervous, whether we recognizeour absence or not." (Stout 658). She indicates that the humanbrain acts according to the past experiences that may cloud thethoughts of an individual. She explains the deed of dissociation froma perspective of an entirely sane person going to a movie theaterwith his wife and having a box of popcorn. The two sit down as theywait for the film to start. Before the video begins, the man seems tobe overwhelmed by the challenges at the workplace.
Twenty-fiveminutes later after the commencement of the film the man loses hisgrasp on reality. He forgets that he has problems at the workplacethat he is with his wife and no longer smells the popcorn. At thistime, the man is dissociated from the reality. At the end of themovie, he will return to his normal mental status. From the example,Stout explains that all that happened to the man was that the part ofthe mind that worries about problems and other real things werereplaced by an imaginary part which was then dominance. The manbecame unconscious on the reality for sometimes. In Citadel, thestudents had women in their lives before joining the institution.None of them was secluded in an island with men only. Faludidescribes how these males became gays. Men surrounded the cadets atall times they were never allowed to even, at least, communicatewith their female counterparts. They developed a habit of dislike towomen because their memories were influenced never to contactfemales otherwise, the worst could transpire. Thus, the identitiesof the cadets were changed as a result of frustrations. Faludi writesthat, on one night, one of the students shouted saying “they lovefaggots like me.” (Faludi 80). Faludi uses this example to indicatehow the experience in the institution has facilitated a change inidentity on the students. These people were initially males who thesociety expects to be tough but later transformed to liking dragqueens.
Stout,Martha. “When I Woke Up Tuesday Morning, It was Friday.” TheNew Humanities Reader. Eds.Richard Miller and Kurt Spellmeyer. Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2012.380-400. Print
Bell,Leslie. “Hard to get: Twenty-Something Women and the Paradox ofSexual Freedom.” TheNew Humanities Reader. Eds.Richard Miller and Kurt Spellmeyer. Stamford: Cengage Learning, 2015.25-41. Print
Faludi,Susan. “The Naked Citadel”. NewHumanities Reader, 2014.77-108.Print.